With a population of 35.5 million, Afghanistan is amongst the poorest countries in the world, with poverty widespread in both urban and rural areas. Protracted conflict has had a strong impact on the country’s economic and social development. Afghanistan has nevertheless witnessed a considerable improvement in its human development indicators since 2001, particularly with regard to health and education.
The European Union (EU) has a long-term commitment to support the people of Afghanistan on their path towards peace, security and prosperity. From 2002 to 2020, the European Union has committed around €5.1 billion in development aid to Afghanistan, which makes Afghanistan the largest beneficiary of EU development assistance in the world.
The EU's overall strategic objectives in the implementation of development aid in Afghanistan are defined by the 2014-2020 Multiannual Indicative Programme, which focuses on 3 priority sectors:
- Peace, stability and democracy
- Sustainable growth and jobs
- Basic social services.
These cooperation priorities are aligned with the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), which is the government's five-year strategic development plan targeted at achieving its overarching goal of self-reliance.
- Antenatal care (ANC) and skilled birth attendant (SBA) coverage has increased from 4% in 2003 to 63% in 2018 and from 8% in 2003 to 58% in 2018 respectively, while full immunization coverage of children under 2 improved from 30% in 2010 to 59% in 2015 and child (under 5) mortality has fallen from 257 per 1,000 live births in 2001 to 50 per 1,000 live births in 2018. Since 2013, the EU contributes to the health and nutrition efforts of the government through a joint trust fund with other development partners.
Agriculture and agro-business:
- EU support to agriculture has increased seed production capacity from 40 to 104 tons, established a network of 6 perennial horticulture development centres, supported the establishment of public-private partnerships with over 1,000 private nurseries and established a strong network of more than 1,100 veterinary field units across the country. The EU has been providing long-term support to agriculture and rural development for more than 10 years.
Rule of law and police:
- Support to payroll management and salaries of around 124,000 employees of the Ministry of Interior responsible for maintaining the rule of law, which also includes the professionalisation of the Afghan National Police including fundamental reforms in the ministry and recruitment of competent civilian experts. EU support is provided through the multi-donor Law and Order Trust Fund (LOTFA).
Public finance management:
- The government revenue collection results grew from $1.3 billion in 2015 to $2.4 billion in 2017, representing a 14% surge in dollar terms from 2016. EU support to domestic resource mobilisation and self-reliance is provided through direct budget support and technical assistance under the State and Resilience Building Contract.
Reintegration of migrants:
- Almost 500,000 individuals benefit from concrete long and short-term support from EU programmes for Afghan people on the move. Through special measures and regional programmes for migration, the EU supports voluntary return and integration of returnees and internally displaced people, including provision of support to Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan.
Climate change mitigation and adaptation:
More than 90,000 people in Northeast Afghanistan benefit from EU support on eco-system management and sustainable energy. The EU environmental and natural resources management portfolio aims to protect biodiversity conservation and increased ecosystems and community resilience through improved natural resources management and climate change adaptation measures.
European development aid to Afghanistan is funded from the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). The current funding cycle for 2014-2020 amounts to €1.4 billion. Key activities are:
Sustainable growth and jobs
- Foster a more inclusive, sustainable and private sector-led economic growth, notably by contributing to unlock the potential of medium and small medium enterprises;
- Support jobs creation through rural enterprises and by leveraging private capital and investments.
Basic social services
- Contribute to the government’s long-term goals of reducing poverty and deepening the relationship between citizens and the state on the basis of quality basic social services;
- Support the government towards improving the health and nutrition status of the Afghan population.
Peace, stability and democracy:
- Promote a peaceful and inclusive Afghan society through improved security, access to justice, democratic governance and domestic accountability;
- Stabilise and improve the security situation through an effective police force and increase the enforcement of law and order through strengthened justice sector institutions;
- Enhance democratic governance and domestic accountability to improve service delivery to the Afghan citizens through legitimate and effective institutions and processes and sound public financial management.
In addition to the above-mentioned support, Afghanistan also receives funds from the EU thematic budgets, regional programmes and special measures. In particular:
- Continuous support to protection, improving conditions for voluntary return and integration of returnees and internally displaced people, including provision of support to Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan;
- Promotion of human rights, women empowerment and the protection of human rights defenders through EIDHR projects;
- Engagement with Afghan civil society through thematic programmes guided by the Civil Society Roadmap 2018-2020.